Italian artist (1240–1302)

Cimabue, (c.1240 - c.1302), was a painter from Florence in Italy who worked in the Late Medieval period. His real name was Cenni di Peppi. He painted large icons in the Byzantine style and was the first great painter in the city of Florence. The only works of art that are known to be definitely by Cimabue are the mosaic of Christ in Majesty in Pisa Cathedral and two very large ruined frescos in the Church of St Francis in Assisi.

The Madonna of Santa Trinita hangs in the Uffizi in the same room as a Madonna by Cimabue's pupil Giotto and another by his rival from Siena, Duccio.
Cimabue designed the Christ in Majesty in Pisa Cathedral. It is a mosaic of little gold and coloured tiles.

The most famous painting that is believed to be by Cimabue is the "Madonna of Santa Trinita" which is an altarpiece that was done for the Church of the Holy Trinity. It is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He is also believed to have painted two large crucifixes which hung in the Church of St Domenic in Arezzo and the Church of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce, Florence). The crucifix of Santa Croce was ruined in a flood and is now in the church's museum.

The biographer Giorgio Vasari wrote about Cimabue's life, 250 years after his death. He wrote that one day Cimabue was walking in the country when he saw a little shepherd boy scratching a picture of a sheep onto a rock. The drawing was so good that Cimabue went to the boy's father and begged that he might take the boy as his apprentice and teach him to paint. The boy was Giotto, who became a very famous painter, and who is thought of as the very first painter of the Italian Renaissance.


  • Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, (1568), 1965 edition, trans George Bull, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-044164-6
  • Frederick Hartt, A History of Italian Renaissance Art, (1970) Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-23136-2
  • Helen Gardner, Art through the Ages, (1970) Harcourt, Brace and World, ISBN 0155-03752-8
  • Ilan Rachum, The Renaissance, an Illustrated Encyclopedia, (1979) Octopus, ISBN 0-7064-0857-8
  • Luciano Berti, Florence: the city and its art, (1971) Scala,
  • Luciano Berti, The Ufizzi, (1971) Scala, Florence.